A new report published today by the cross party education committee, highlights the challenges within the system in delivering the SEND Reforms. As a contributor to the committee’s report, we are confident that the 2014 reforms were the right ones, however, whilst an increase in funding is essential, this must go hand in hand with cultural and systemic changes on the ground.
We think that the reforms raised parental expectations, and rightly so. However, the current system is still leaving parents and carers bewildered and exhausted. We’ve seen a substantial increase in families calling us for advice, because they simply feel lost in bureaucracy. The aspirations, hope and dreams of young people with SEND are suffering as a result.
Within the report, NDTi’s Linda Jordan explains that there is still confusion and reliance on the medical model and the traditional labels rather than support for young people to have good life outcomes beyond their education
“The Code talks about the preparing for adulthood outcomes throughout, I think they are mentioned in every chapter, but it also talks about education, health and care outcomes. Most education, health and care plans are constructed with the outcomes under areas of need. There is an element of confusion and that is mostly what we do, helping people to work through those contradictions and to think about that the most important outcomes are life outcomes… It is perhaps moving away from some of our traditional ways of constructing outcomes in quite short-term, narrow education objectives more into how we are going to support this young person to be as independent as possible, to have relationships, friends and so on.”
We agree with many of the report’s recommendations around accountability and financial burden sharing, but we particularly welcome the recommendation of a cross government focus on employment and independent living pathways for young people with SEND, however we urge the continued focus on friends, relationships and community too. Whilst funding and bureaucracy remains an issue, the biggest obstacles are still cultural. Inclusion within mainstream schools, employment, housing and in communities are still priorities if the vision behind the SEND Reforms is to be realised.
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